I get this question a lot when I go into the elementary school classrooms, however I can never give an adequate answer. The reason I can’t ever give them a real answer is because they are usually in about grade 5 and I think the only adequate answer is about sex. So yes, to your shock and horror I am going to sexualize God and the Bible and probably get everyone mad at me.
So usually I start out by telling the kids how God’s maleness isn’t just a sexist way to describe God but that God is called male for a reason. The Church is the Bride of Christ and Christ is the Bridegroom. This automatically makes God male and the rest of us female and not just in a metaphorical way. In a relation of human to human we have a type of female or maleness, but in a relationship on a supernatural level we are all female and God is male. I think this gets confused a lot because of modern society’s confusion with the distinction between sex and gender. Sex is a biological fact while (to the chagrin of the sexually liberated) gender is not an identity you choose, it is a type of person based on sex. The word Gender comes from the word “Genus” which means a general distinction (as opposed to a species or specific type). So gender is just a general category that we fit into based on sex. This distinction between gender and sex is not what this blog is about however…
So I want to argue that Sex and faith have the male female distinction and that God has used sex to tell us truths about Himself. I mean why wouldn’t He first of all? Sex is as close to Heaven, as close to bliss and ecstasy that we can get in our physical human form. It is a beautiful and wonderful gift that expresses the divine. The Bible expresses Jesus as the Bridegroom a lot!
In Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34, the Apostles are referred to as the friends, guests, or children depending on the translation, of the Bridegroom commonly accepted to be Jesus Christ.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”- Matthew 25:1-13
“Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” – Ephesians 5:22-25
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” -Revelation 19:9
The Bible is clearly using the relationship between husband and wife to represent the relationship between God/Jesus and His people (sometimes considered the “church” and sometimes considered the “city of Jerusalem”). There is an obvious ongoing metaphor so I’d like to take this metaphor one step further. I heard one time that a very devout Catholic couple referred to their marital sex as “Celebrating the Sacrament”. So why not bring in the sexual aspect of marriage into the metaphor from the Bible? I mean sex is a key part of marriage so maybe God is trying to tell us something by using this Bride/Bridegroom language all the time.
When it comes to male and female, we have to talk about sexuality, so we are going to get a little explicit here. What makes a man, a man is that he has a penis and what makes a woman, a woman is that she has a vagina (duh). So what makes someone male is the ability to literally and physically enter into the female. (See why I can’t explain this to elementary school children?) This makes the man the natural “aggressor” while the woman is the natural “receiver”. You could say that the man is offense and the woman is defense and we see this in stereotypical, traditional gender roles. Outside of just the sexual act we commonly see the man as the pursuer and the woman as the pursued. The man typically makes the first move while the woman decides whether or not to receive the offer. (btw I’m trying to make this sound less like a horror film but I can’t, so don’t think of “aggressor” and “offense” and “pursuer” in a violent or patriarchal way.)
In human to human relationship this is obvious, especially in the 50s. Now let’s take this analogy to God/Jesus’ relationship to His church. C.S. Lewis calls God “The hound of Heaven” and talks about how God pursues us. Just to make this blog post as sexual as possible let’s look at the naked picture on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel….
Look how God stretches, pursues Adam who represents humanity. God is on offense while Adam (all of us) get to choose whether or not we want to receive God. We can take the sexual analogy and say that God is the one who “enters into” our lives, our hearts. God is incarnated as a human being; God penetrates our physical world with the incarnation of Jesus. I’d even go so far to say that Jesus enters into us in a physical way in the Eucharist. The body of Christ literally and physically comes into our body. You could even say that we become impregnated with the graces of God and give birth to the Good works we perform. Now you can say that is over-sexualizing God but so what? If we see sex as something dirty or perverted then this seems disgusting or sick. However if we saw sex the way God sees it, the way He created it to be and the way it exists in an ideal Christian marriage then this is a profound explanation of our relationship with God.
So to answer the question, this is exactly why we call God “Father”. Because we are the Bride of Christ and Christ is our Bridegroom. God has to be considered male because of what being male is (which I think we’ve lost sight of lately). I think this is more than metaphor or analogy, I think this is the fullest expression of love. In a human sexual relationship the goal is to become one.
“and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:8
The goal of our relationship with God is also that we should become one with the divine and that happens when God enters into our bodies, hearts and minds.
Let’s start like responsible philosophers with clear definitions…
Empiricism is the theory that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience. It emphasizes the role of experience and evidence in the formation of ideas, and argues that the only knowledge humans can have is “a posteriori” (Latin for “from what comes after”)
Thi is opposed to Rationalism which is…
Rationalism is a method of inquiry that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge and, in contrast to empiricism, tends to not approve of sensory experience. A priori (Latin for “from what was before”)
A priori (prior to experience) knowledge is what we know using our minds and not our senses. We live in a world of Empiricism right now. Science gives us empirical evidence and we are told we need this to believe anything. We are a culture of extreme skepticism in everything, except of science and empirical evidence.
This is a problem for two reasons.
- Not everything is subject to the scientific method. God, ghosts, anything spiritual. Even psychology, we can do experiments and test but we can’t be as certain in psychology as we can be of something like gravity.
- The other problem is that we don’t know how much we can trust our senses. This is what I want to spend some time on.
You’ve probably seen the movie The Matrix which leaves us with the question, how do I know that everything I’m experiencing (Empirical data) isn’t just a dream or a computer program? Now, no one believes this is real, but we can’t know for sure! Descartes took this to the extreme and decided the only thing he can know is that he is a thinking thing. There is something (his soul? his mind?) that definitely exists because he knows that he is thinking about these things. From there I think we can build a few basic truths and know them for sure (as Descartes tried to do).
One truth we can never know for sure is Empiricism. I’m not saying I believe we are in Inception or something, however science itself helps to prove how unreliable science actually is. Einstein came up with his theories of relativity in the early 1900s which basically say that time is different depending on your perspective. Not that it is perceived differently, but time is actually different.
“Scientists have tested this theory through experimentation – proving, for example, that an atomic clock ticks more slowly when traveling at a high speed than it does when it is not moving. The essence of Einstein’s paper was that both space and time are relative (rather than absolute)…”
So depending on your speed time literally moves slower or faster (you don’t perceive it slower or faster, it actually slows down or speeds up!!). I know it sounds insane, but that is because we place so much importance on experience. This was confirmed conclusively just recently because not only is time relative, but also physical matter itself is relative. Gravitational waves from a supernova came through and scientists detected that it stretched all physical matter on earth (including the earth itself) by a microscopic amount. We didn’t notice a thing though.
My concern is that if something as basic as time and my height can be completely subjective, then how can I trust anything I see or hear or smell or taste or feel? Logic is something I can trust much more. The law of non-contradiction is more concrete than Newtons laws. Furthermore if we can throw out so much of what we knew about physics so quickly, maybe we will be throwing out Einsteins theories sooner than we think?
My point is just that we cannot choose to trust only Empiricism, as we have. I would argue that Rationalism is more trustworthy than Empiricism. You may not believe that, but either way, we all have to wrestle with the fact (and it is a fact) that we cannot be as certain about anything as we thought we could. We know staggeringly little about the world we perceive. We should be more open to uncertainty and not act so sure of so much.
This clip from Last Week Tonight expands on the science problem. There is a quote in this piece (below), “I think the way to live your life is you find the study that sounds best to you” where Jon Oliver makes the joke that choosing only what you want to believe, “is religion, that’s religion you’re thinking of.” That’s Exactly the problem, our society doesn’t understand what science does or what philosophy/religion is.
At the election on October 19th I plan to walk in and hand in my ballot completely blank. Why would I do this? To make as many enemies as possible? Here is the problem, no one cares if I vote or not, people only care if I vote for who they want! Technically I did vote, so no one can be upset. So why would I waste my time spoiling my ballot when it’s pretty much the same as not voting? I don’t know, mostly so people don’t yell at me for not voting and to show that it’s not about laziness. The reason I didn’t vote is because I don’t believe in our democratic political system.
Who wants you to vote?
All of the campaigns to encourage people to vote are supported by Liberals (or NDP) and aimed at young people. Why, because younger people are more likely to vote More liberal. Conservatives don’t encourage people to vote for the same reason. So when it looks like people care about something, it’s really just a calculated political move, which is all politics ever is. Everything they do is to win, do they even have any ideological values? That explains why no ones platform is consistent. Trudeau is “Pro-Choice” but doesn’t allow his party members to CHOOSE where they stand on abortion…that’s called pro-ABORTION not pro-choice!
What is an Ad Hominem Fallacy
I don’t know what hardly any of the issues are because all I everhear are arguments about how terrible the person is and how they aren’t good enough to lead the country. What is an ad hominem argument? It’s attacking the person instead of the persons arguments. If I argue that the death penalty is wrong because we don’t have the right to kill anyone and you respond with “You’re just a wimp!”that is not addressing the actual argument, just the person. So all this Harper is racist and Trudeau isn’t ready really just comes down to slandering the opposition to make yourself look better. If we are going to steal something from American politics, let’s steal voting on specific issues and leave the mudslinging to the experts. Ooooooo Burn, America!
But Mike, aren’t you Pro-Life?!?!? Think of the Children!!!!
I am pro-life and I think it would be nice to have a pro-life party to vote for. Harper has been Prime Minister since 2006 and there is absolutely no regulations on abortion. You can literally kill a baby legally while the mother is in labour. If Conservatives care about this issue, then when will anything happen? Oh remember what I said about no party being consistent…. Ooooo burn, conservatives! So yes I’m pro-life, who do I vote for to get abortion laws changed? Let me know when you find out….
Democracy does not work
I’ve been a Communist and an Anarchist and now I just realize there is no good system. Plato said in the Republic that democracy is the least just system of government. He said dictatorship is more just! Maybe we should try a dictatorship? (Don’t forget that Hitler was elected democratically!) The only way you can have a just political system is if the people/person in charge cared more about other people than themselves… So we have no hope. I think the people in charge need to be philosophers first and foremost. They need to objectively look at things, they need to change their minds once in a while and they need to admit they are wrong sometimes!
The conclusion to this hopeless, depressing rant… I hear Switzerland is nice this time of year! I hate politics precisely because I have no good solution and I’m not sure there is an actual solution. Individuals need to look into what is right and what is wrong. Just because it is legal does not make it right. Have an informed conscious, have a truly open mind and don’t be afraid to change sides! And for the love of everything good and holy, take a philosophy class! Philosophy was the only subject I took in University that, I felt, wasn’t completely bias. There is a lot more I could say but my main point is that you need to think critically, always look at what someone’s motivations could be before you buy what they’re selling. I think philosophy is the only way to make reasonable decisions.